Palm Sunday Marks the Beginning of Holy Week
In the Lenten season, Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday, also known as Passion Sunday. This Sunday observes Jesus’s triumphant and joyful entrance into Jerusalem, marked by jubilant crowds waving palm branches, which symbolize victory over sin, peace, and eternal life.
In the Gospel reading of Jesus’s triumphant journey, we hear about Him riding into Jerusalem on a humble donkey, thus symbolizing his humility and fulfilling an ancient prophecy in the book of Zechariah.
As they waved palm braches, crowds welcomed Jesus by shouting “hosanna in the highest.” In Hebrew, hossana means “save us, we pray.”
Parishioners traditionally enact the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem during Palm Sunday Mass in a ritual procession by waving palm branches and singing songs of celebration. The palm fronds, which are blessed, may be returned to the church or kept. However, because the palms are blessed, they are considered sacramentals and can only be burned or buried, but never thrown away.
Many people, especially children, are encouraged to fashion the palms into crafts, such as small crosses, roses, or other items of personal devotion to help make the connection between the celebration of Palm Sunday and the forthcoming events of Holy Week.
This Sunday, April 5th, is also known as Passion Sunday, not only to commemorate the start of Holy Week, but also Jesus’s agonizing, final journey to the cross. The English word passion comes from the Latin root pati-, which means “to suffer or endure” and is the same root from which we derive the English word patient.
The color used for liturgical vestments for Palm Sunday is red, symbolizing the passion of Christ and the blood He shed upon the cross. During Holy Week, the color red is also used on Good Friday.
Ultimately, Palm Sunday serves as a preparation of one’s heart for the agony of Jesus’s death and the ecstasy of His resurrection on Easter Sunday.